We urgently need data for equitable personalized medicine

Article by Manuel Corpas: “…As a bioinformatician, I am now focusing my attention on gathering the statistics to show just how biased medical research data are. There are problems across the board, ranging from which research questions get asked in the first place, to who participates in clinical trials, to who gets their genomes sequenced. The world is moving toward “precision medicine,” where any individual can have their DNA analyzed and that information can be used to help prescribe the right drugs in the right dosages. But this won’t work if a person’s genetic variants have never been identified or studied in the first place.

It’s astonishing how powerful our genetics can be in mediating medicines. Take the gene CYP2D6, which is known to play a vital role in how fast humans metabolize 25 percent of all the pharmaceuticals on the market. If you have a genetic variant of CYP2D6 that makes you metabolize drugs more quickly, or less quickly, it can have a huge impact on how well those drugs work and the dangers you face from taking them. Codeine was banned from all of Ethiopia in 2015, for example, because a high proportion of people in the country (perhaps 30 percent) have a genetic variant of CYP2D6 that makes them quickly metabolize that drug into morphine, making it more likely to cause respiratory distress and even death…(More)”